Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Term ended on Friday, and a couple of hours after school finished I was busy setting up my tent for a weekend of medieval fun with the SCA. I had a fantastic time, made a heap of new friends, and felt great about myself the whole time I was there. It was fun, relaxed, gentle time with a collection of sweet, healthy people. I had a ball and I rather suspect I'm hooked for life on this SCA thing. I even met another Anglican girl with the exact same attitude to religion that I have. Ha, there ARE more of us! She was as relieved as I was lol. I got lots of embroidery done (and had my techniques admired!!), sang lots of silly songs, went to bed tired out and slept soundly. Apart from the night when my air bed died, but that's all part of the fun ;)

So, it's the holidays. My main goal for these holidays is to get myself 100% physically and mentally healthy ready for term 4. I want to go back feeling strong and successful not stressed out and weak! Lots of walking, healthy food only, solitude and quiet, and good self-help books is the plan.

My skin has been really, really bad lately - pimples all over as if I was sixteen again. I think this is mainly because of stress, but it's also likely not helped by the fact that I eat badly when I'm stressed. Not necessarily all high fat, high sugar foods, but just trashy convenience foods. I've been eating a lot of over-processed rubbish full of preservatives and additives of all sorts. That's not the kind of diet I want to have, so I've decided to shift directly to an organic eating plan. As few foods with artificial additives as possible (none if I can help it) and as few packaged foods as possible. Trying to make everything from scratch from fresh ingredients, and so on. I've got a great example in the slow-cooker at the moment - chicken and vegetable stew made from fresh chicken, fresh vegetables, herbs and spices, chicken stock (the natural liquid kind!) and water. I've also decided to start shifting to natural hygiene products. I've bought entirely plant-based shampoo, conditioner and body wash. This is leaping a little ahead of my original long-term going organic plan (which started with cleaning products earlier this year) but I'm hoping it'll help my skin to settle down.

I'm going camping next week in WA's picturesque south-west and hope to have a photosplurge on the blog afterwards!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Two vivid dreams about babies two nights running.

I am SO not interested in playing that game with my subconscious right now.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What’s the Worst Best That Could Happen?

A psychological technique my last counsellor taught me is to drive fears as far as they can go, until they become ridiculously overblown and you can laugh at them. The absolute worst that can happen is often so absurd that there's no sense thinking about it. I’ve made a habit of this to the point where I very rarely get caught up fretting about what might happen any more. I’ve got that tendency under control. I know that no matter what happens I’ll probably be okay.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about standards. I compromised my standards to be with MD because I was enjoying other aspects of the relationship. That didn’t end well! I have read and believed plenty of times that one will never be happy in a relationship unless one’s standards aren’t being compromised, but I don’t think I really KNEW it until things with MD went pear-shaped.

My standards are not all that exacting. Obviously, anyone who is a bananahead does not meet my standards! Unfortunately MD was a stealth bananahead. But for people who aren’t bananaheads, there’s things that I need that people might just not have. At the core, these are the things in my life that a relationship must not alter or damage:
- My health (beyond bananahead things like no substance abuse & no idiot driving, they need to at least understand good eating & exercise)
- My faith (I need to be able to practice Christianity unashamed and unhindered)
- My location (I am building a life here in Perth and specifically in the hills, and will not move away for anything unless it’s a mutual decision!)
- My interests (they need to be ok with and even enthusiastic about the SCA and all the activities involved, the degree I’m doing, and my philanthropic goals, and so on)

Sometimes it feels like an impossible task to find someone who will enlarge and expand and enhance my life, not narrow and restrict and impede it.

So what happens if I never find someone who can do that? What if I never meet a guy who is a compatible non-bananahead?

I’m not going to sit around fretting about that, but I asked myself . . . what if that is a positive question? What CAN I do if I never find someone?

I’ll finish paying off my debts and start saving.
I’ll start travelling overseas.
I’ll buy a house and start building a real estate portfolio.
I’ll keep teaching and studying until I decide that I want a change.
I’ll start fostering and raise families of foster children.
I’ll buy that big bush block and build an eco-home and a self-sufficient veggie garden.
I’ll have pets and more foster kids and a wide range of friends and interests and I’ll lead a fun, fulfilling life.

Not so bad, actually.

Everything I’m reading about healing from bad relationships recommends taking the desperation out of dating, and recognising that a partner should complement your life, not complete it. I think I’m edging closer to really getting that. I can see from exercises like the above that I will be FINE if I never find someone. I’ll lead a happy and purposeful life on my own, and a life full of dreams that are not worth sacrificing for someone who is going to make my life a poorer, lesser thing.

Naturally, if I do find someone, those dreams will drift and alter a little because we’ll be forging new, combined dreams. But they will be dreams that are a whole made up of two parts, not a whole created by chopping parts off and casting them away.

It’s time to start living my life for me, and living the knowledge that my life is going to be wonderful whether it’s coupled or alone, because I choose to make it that way. If someone comes into my life to live their dreams alongside mine . . . great. If not, I will make my way regardless. Because I am me, and I am enough.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cognitive Fail

Another thing my counsellor and I discussed on Friday was the fact that stress, anxiety and depression can play merry hell with the neural networks in one's brain. Instead of carrying electricity fluidly, they start to short out, and these shorts are the reason why one becomes vague, forgetful and confused during times of high anxiety and depression.

I've been noticing this of myself a lot recently. Words come out of my mouth mangled more often. I trip over my words. I lose the thread of my sentence or forget long words. I've 'lost' the names of some of the boys in the classes below and above mine, names I used to know. And I do bizarre things. Like last night: I was getting ready for bed and took my shirt and bra off, then grabbed my pyjama trousers instead of my top and tried to pull them over the slacks I was still wearing. I laughed until I cried at the time, and so did my housemate when I told her, but it's still a bit scary how disconnected my brain seems to be at the moment. I know it'll get better, but . . . wow.

I've been off the temazepam for two nights now. I'm back to waking up at about 4-5am and again at about 6am, but at least I'm waking up fairly calm and being able to go back to sleep quite quickly (provided that Jem doesn't notice that I'm awake, because if she does I have a purring meowing headbutting attention-seeker to deal with!). I'm not sleeping as well as before because I'm waking up VERY tired, as if I'd taken a whole antihistamine sleeping tablet before bed. I literally feel doped. It wears off by mid-morning and after that I feel pretty good, if very tired. I'm sure I'll get there in the end, my body just has to readjust.

There's only a week and a half left of school then two weeks' holidays, which I thoroughly need. I'm going away camping for the first weekend which will be nice. Hopefully I'll come back to Term 4 feeling refreshed.

Monday, September 14, 2009

In My Skin

On Friday my counsellor and I had a very interesting conversation. It started when she asked me to describe one way in which my Aspergers affects me as an adult. I mentioned often feeling gauche / socially inept, and she wanted an example. So I told her about something that happened at my weekend at the SCA. My cousin and I went to the two events together, and on the Saturday we discovered that her Saturday dress was made from the same material as my Sunday dress. When we got to the event we spotted another girl also wearing a dress of the same material. When I found myself next to that girl at the food table, I turned to her with a smile and told her that we had been laughing because of the number of dresses with the same material, which was no surprise really because it was such good material for costumes. She smiled back and that was that. But my cousin a minute later whispered to me in a wry-amused voice, "only you would point out and make light of such a social faux pas!". And I realised that she was right and felt awkward about it.

The counsellor said, "But why did her opinion matter more than yours?".
I blinked a few times, then said, "well, obviously I thought she was a bit silly for worrying about it, but I know most people would agree with her, not me."
Counsellor: "So?"
Me: ... ... ... *codfish impression*

God damn it, she's right.

Aspergers or not, people who are Different Like Me spend their whole lives feeling like they're marching to the beat of a different drum, out of sync, getting it wrong.

In our society the natural acquisition of social norms is characterised by the application of 'good' or 'bad' labels. Conforming behaviour is good, non-conforming behaviour is bad. Children internalise these labels, strive to stick to the 'good' and avoid the 'bad'. That'd be fine if people saved the 'bad' for things that are actually, you know, bad. But because our society insists on cultural conformity as well as behavioural conformity, that moral judgement is meted out whenever a child displays any behaviour - no matter how harmless - that falls outside the cultural norms. Some adults are stricter than others in their insistence on conformity, but even the most relaxed have a line past which they will tell the child that they are misbehaving or being an embarrassment.

And so we internalise the message. Non-conformity is BAD.

And for those of us who spend the first two decades of our lives just working out that there IS a code we were missing behind all this conformity stuff . . . we've spent two decades being told that our everything is embarrassing, unacceptable, bad.

Which, frankly, is bullshit.

Some social graces are required to ease the flow of society, yes. I'm not talking about abolishing please and thankyou here. But there is so much scope for people to be interesting and creative and wonderful and happy and free in ways that hurt no one, and yet attract those dreadful moral labels of "weird" or "embarrassing".

When I am in social situations, I often feel that I am "one step back from my eyes". I'm not living on the surface of my being, free to be myself and act and respond in ways that are genuine to my personality. Instead I'm lurking one step back, judging and assessing everything, making sure I'm not getting it wrong and cringing when I do. A lifetime of waiting for the next judgemental blow to fall has made this kind of mental camouflage necessary.

Occasionally I find that I have been living all the way out to the edges of my being. Sadly, all too often it's a comment like the one my cousin made that brings my attention to it, and I find myself one step back again, peering out through this body trying to make a connection with the world around me. But just once in a while I realise that I've spent a whole passage of time living all the way out to the edges and nothing bad has happened. I felt that way tonight when I left the SCA music practise. I realised that I'd spent the whole evening being 100% authentic uncensored me, and not once did I feel like I'd got it wrong.

I think that says a lot about the people I was with - they're good people, who recognise that weird is ok (if you're part of a society that re-enacts the medieval period I guess you kind of have to realise that). But I think there's also a seed of confidence inside me beginning to grow.

I want to learn to be like that - and feel that good - all the time. If I'm living all the way to the edges of my skin I may occasionally I may blurt out something gauche or get conversational reciprocity wrong or let on that my favourite interests are not mainstream. But . . . so what? If people get hung up about such minor deviations from the norm, that's their problem, not mine. And it's their loss, too.

I've internalised that message of essential badness far too well. The counsellor pointed out that in the example with my cousin, I had simply assumed that she was right and ignored the possibility that she could be wrong. I accepted her correction without casting a single critical thought over the situation or reflecting on whether my position might have some merit. I've become so used to being judged for my differences that I've actually lost the natural perspective that says "I might be right".

For someone who prides herself on critical thought, that's a bit of a devastating revelation.

I'm going to try to be mindful of this problem for the next few weeks. If I find myself one step back from my eyes, I'm going to work through my positive affirmations about being good and sufficient, and see whether I can make myself consciously step up to the outside. I want to get myself to the point where I am constantly and deliberately me, instead of achieving it only in heady moments of abandon with an inevitable come-down thump.

When I live on the outside of my skin I feel taller, stronger, brighter, lighter. I feel like the whole universe is at my fingertips. I feel like I'm glowing. My mind tingles. I can do anything.

I guess that's what self-confidence really feels like?

I want to walk like that through every day of my life.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


As I've previously mentioned, I've joined the Society for Creative Anachronism recently, and I've thrown myself into the incredibly fun and creative activities of that group.

One of the standard things for an SCA newbie to do is to create a name and a device for themselves. My name came to me in an instant and I love it (though I won't share it here, for Googlesafety reasons) but I held off on making a device because it seemed like such an overwhelming task.

This weekend, after some heraldry research, I started playing around with images, and came across this fantastic site where one can design a device for free. That allowed me to play around with colours and ideas easily, and below is the device I came up with:

Argent, a saltire vert, in pale two cinquefoils azure, in fess two fleury crosses sable.

I chose the white & green colour scheme because those colours speak to me. The blue cinquefoils are reminiscent of the blue lechenaultia, my favourite flower. The crosses are for my religion and the fact that they're floriated is for faith, wisdom and chivalry.

It was only after I'd finished and decided that I loved the design that I looked up the actual heraldic meanings of the elements of the device. This is what I found:

Argent means: Peace & sincerity
Vert means: Hope, joy, loyalty in love
Saltire cross means: Resolution
Cinquefoil means: Hope and joy
Azure means: Truth and loyalty
Fleury cross means: One who has conquered
Sable means: Constancy or grief

I was pretty impressed - a lot of heraldry devices are about war or other militant themes, or oriented towards occupations. Somehow I'd unfailingly picked out colours and symbols that represent everything for which I am striving.

It was the meaning of the fleury crosses that particularly got me. "One who has conquered grief." Seriously. That's a coincidence that made me boggle. I couldn't have come up with a better snapshot of my emotional state if I'd deliberately set out to engineer one!

I'm liking the device more every time I look at it, and once my SCA membership card arrives I'm going to go register the name & device with the herald. It's me, through and through.

Friday, September 4, 2009


I'm reading a book called Innately Good by Jan Denise at the moment. It struck a chord as soon as I started flicking through it in the bookshop, and it's turned out to be a good choice.

Something I read in it this evening reminded me of a recurring thought I had as a child: that there was something wrong with me because I didn't collect anything. Mum collected owl figurines, my brother collected cats of any type, my cousin collected mice, my grandfather collected elephants. People kept asking me what I collected, and I didn't know what to say, because I didn't collect anything. I felt like a failure for that and tried to launch collections of a few different things, but none of them stuck.

I realised fully, just now, that this was because I was already collecting something. Dolls. With a quick search of my computer for old files I was able to find the first, middle and surnames of 112 dolls. 112. I'm still able to recall the backstory and position in the doll hierarchy that most of them had. And they weren't all my dolls.

If 112+ isn't a collection, I don't know what is!

But for some reason it didn't "count" with the people who mattered. I remember my mother being frustrated because I wanted yet another doll that had caught my fancy. She thought I had enough dolls. Enough?! I might add also that she still actively collects owls 20 years later. Enough my foot.

No wonder I feel inadequate and incomplete when it seems like my entire life has been spent at cross purposes with those around me!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Comforts are falling into place. The doctor I saw yesterday prescribed sleeping tablets so that I'm getting enough sleep to recover. I managed to get in to a local not-for-profit health care centre's Medicare-funded counselling so I'll only be paying $25 a session (rather than the $100+ one pays commercially per session!). And my principal got alarmed at my general state of not-quite-coping and has given me fully paid stress leave until the end of next week so I've got time to get my head clear. And assured me that my job is in no danger and they want me to get well and come back and not burn out!

So I'm feeling like an unwound spring right now whose life has suddenly become a lot less complicated. If I don't update for a week it'll be because I've put away the computer all the better to recover!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Calling It.

As I talked about in that guest blog, it is very hard for me to ask for help or speak out when I have needs. Tied with this fear of making a fuss is a fear of saying anything that might sound the least bit dramatic or attention-seeking. Which makes this so very hard to say.

I'm depressed.

There, I said it

I'm not coping, I'm exhausted and miserable and I can't sleep properly and I feel utterly overwhelmed. It's a fact. It is what it is. I have depression.

I'm struggling for a way to get treatment for this. I need to see a doctor but it's so hard to get an appointment. I need to see a counsellor but I can't afford anything other than a charity-based one and I seem to be having trouble finding one and the stupid people at uni where I get free counselling can't seem to figure out a way around the fact that I can't come for a short triage session of a morning. I'm getting frantic because getting help seems to be caught up in bureaucracy right when I can least cope with it.

Why is it all so hard?